We look back at the Barclays gentrification issue in the documentary “A Genius Leaves The Hood: The Unauthorized Story of Jay-Z.”
Jamarlin also looks at De Beers and the diamond industry using Russell Simmons as a lobbyist to counter backlash from the movie “Blood Diamond.”
You can listen to the entire conversation right now in the audio player below. If you prefer to listen on your phone, GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin is available wherever you listen to podcasts — including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 67: Jamarlin Martin
Jamarlin goes solo to discuss the NFL’s entertainment and “social justice” deal with Jay-Z.
This is a full transcript of the conversation which has been lightly edited for clarity.
Clark Kent: Once you realize that people believe you or believe your movement, you basically, I hope this doesn’t come off crazy, but you can basically sell them anything.
Dr. Boyce Watkins: The Barclay’s deal was one of the most horrible deals ever done, especially in sports. They played Jay-Z like a fiddle. They played the community like a fiddle.
Mister Cee: At the end of the day when the stuffy businessmen were like, how can we gain momentum in terms of gaining public support behind this? Who’s the person, are we going to reach out to Robert De Niro? No, we gotta get Jay-Z.
Dr. Boyce Watkins: They put him on a big billboard in Times Square as an owner of the team and a lot of people really thought that he was actually the owner of the team.
M-1: They would not have been able to sail through those that own the majority part of the net. All of the issues that had to do with zoning and rezoning, etc. without having someone like a Jay-Z involved.
Marve Frazier: I think it’s a case of Jay-Z pimping corporate America as much as corporate America’s pimping Jay-Z.
Bill Adler: Politics is a messy business and local politics might be messier than national politics. So for Jay to have discovered this in the course of pursuing this professional basketball team for Brooklyn, what did he expect?
M-1: I am one of the people who was affected by Barclays. We didn’t even know that it was going to be related to Jay-Z or called Barclays or anything. We just were told that we would need to move. That we knew that eventually if we refused which we, of course did, then they would buy the building right from up under us, which is really ultimately what happened.
Unknown man1: At the time, there were serious confrontations. I think they raised the question of eminent domain.
M-1: I can tell you that the grumbles and groans of the community that knew that Brooklyn would not be the same and this would usher in gentrification.
Unknown man2: These buildings were deemed blighted. They weren’t big enough to generate enough tax revenue and some of the other blight indications were cracks in the sidewalk, like this is blight right here, under their definition. Of course you can find cracks in the sidewalk in every neighborhood.
02:25 — Dr. Boyce Watkins: Once they got the arena built, they paid Jay-Z some money. I think he made $6 million or $7 million and the city of Brooklyn was royally screwed.
Unknown man1: The developers had to secure some of the properties, but I was able to live with it because they gave the owners beyond market value. This is Brooklyn man. This is downtown Brooklyn. That’s what downtown means. It means big buildings. It means the hustle and bustle, it means that’s what it is.
Unknown man2: I truly think that he has a lot of love for Brooklyn, but I gotta be honest. I feel a lot of it’s about the money. You listen to his lyrics and that comes up a lot.
Jamarlin Martin: You’re listening to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin. We have a go hard or go home approach as we talk to the leading tech leaders, politicians and influencers. Let’s GHOGH! We’re going to tackle the NFL’s deal with Jay-Z. The clip that you heard was from my film. I was the executive producer. I invested in the documentary. That’s from “A Genius Leaves The Hood”. And so, back in 2013 I had questions about what did Jay-Z really believe in. I was a big fan of his music. I was a big fan of him as a entrepreneur, but what was in back of that? And so in that film we talked about his genius, his brilliant business moves and calculated moves. But we also talked about, what does this guy really believe in? And at the time there was a study where millennials were surveyed and they said that they had some big questions about Jay-Z’s brand because they did not understand what he believed in besides money, business and all this stuff that he talked about. But they didn’t know what he believed in. This movie came out. Jay-Z actually came against me, that when the trailer came out, I got a letter from Shawn Carter Enterprises via email.
04:25 — Jamarlin Martin: His people said that I needed to destroy this documentary, “A Genius Leaves The Hood”. They said destroy everything right away. I didn’t fold when Jay-Z came against me because I knew that I had done the proper due diligence with the copyright. Our game was really tight. So yeah, it’s Jay-Z. Yeah, he has very long arms. That’s what VH1 told me when I presented the documentary to them. They said that they really liked the doc, but they didn’t want to ruffle any feathers in the industry. They know Jay-Z had long arms. VH1 wanted to license the doc. They love the doc, but they said they were scared of Jay-Z, in so many words. So I get this letter from Jay-Z, they want me to fold. I do some research on documentary film litigation and I found a lawyer named Lincoln Bandlow and Lincoln Bandlow, he was involved with the case against the Dole fruit company. The Dole company sued a documentary filmmaker talking about exploitation in Latin America with their business. So the filmmaker was scrutinizing Dole’s business of exploiting workers. And I saw that Lincoln Bandlow, he represented the documentary filmmaker. In the countersuit, Dole ended up paying the documentary filmmaker. And so I said to myself, I need to use this guy. This guy, he was representing a filmmaker who was looking at the Dole business. And he ended up, although the filmmaker was sued, Dole ended up paying the filmmaker. And I said, look, this is the guy we need to use to go back at Jay-Z. And so, we send a letter back and the movie came out, it was on Netflix, it was on TV One. It was a success. All we needed was to come back and, they folded. We didn’t fold.
Jamarlin Martin: That clip is from “A Genius Leaves The Hood”. And so I don’t need to repeat some of the points that were made by the individuals in that clip. The way I think about things is, to understand situations, particularly surprising situations, I need to look at the history. I need to look at the patterns. Okay. So before I analyze or look at an issue, particularly relevant to Black people in America, I have to look at the history to understand the present. When I heard about this NFL deal, I’m a big Jay-Z fan. I actually thought that since the film came out in 2013 that Jay-Z has made great strides in terms of building a deeper relationship with the Black community in terms of more of a coming out, where he believes as we believe in terms of pairing himself with Trayvon Martin, And there’s a lot of other good things that he has done in the community, including the messaging that he’s putting in his lyrics with 4:44. From my perspective, since 2000 or 2014, Jay-Z has done a big pivot culturally in Black America. It’s been a positive pivot. It has helped his business, has helped his brand, where the people are more understanding or more supportive. But Jay-Z has made a cultural pivot since 2013, since 2014. From my perspective, I’ve been a fan of this pivot. So this NFL thing comes out. The initial headline was, Jay-Z partners with the NFL, blah blah blah. And then there’s some of the criticism and the first thing I thought was, okay, if people are talking about Kap, Jay-Z can come back and say, “Hey, Kap did his deal with Nike, he did his multi-million-dollar deal with Nike. I did my deal with the NFL.”
08:43 — Jamarlin Martin: Okay. I was just playing around on Twitter and I said something like that. But then I started digging into the issue. I didn’t take a position, I was just playing around as a joke, from a Jay-Z perspective. But then, when I started digging into this stuff, Jay-Z saying kneeling is Hova. He didn’t say it was over, he put the Hova on it. So when a guy like Jay-Z comes into racial justice or Black justice, I’m not using social justice, that soy milk homogenized, pasteurized, that weak stuff that people want to make white folks comfortable and use something ambiguous like social justice. What does that mean? What does that have to do with the people getting shot down by the police? These people are Black. We’re focused on Black people getting shot down.
Jamarlin Martin: So first off, I’m skeptical of people who are going to use the term social justice, particularly in a setting of a crowd full of white folks. Why are you using this PC term? So Jay-Z says, “Kneeling is Hova”. “I’m Jay-Z and I’m declaring, kneeling is over. We need to go into action.” When I looked at this, I said, look, okay, first, when you have a controversial outcome or you have a negative outcome, let’s process the process. Okay. Was the process to get to this NFL deal defective? And let’s look at it. So Kap has been the number one symbol of the kneeling and the protests within the NFL. Okay. So whether you like it or not, he’s the anchor of what’s going on in the NFL. Okay. There’s other players involved. But the fact that Jay-Z did not consult or even talk to Kap or the other players who have a lot of emotions and investment into this issue within the NFL. But he’s not going to even talk to the other NFL players about this, who really believe in the protest or the movement. If he’s not even going to talk to them, that could reflect negative intent, meaning that you may know that there’s something dirty about this deal where you don’t want to talk to the people. You may not like what the result is.
11:25 — Jamarlin Martin: So when Jay-Z says, “Kneeling is Hova”, I thought that he injected himself as some type of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. And so whenever you inject yourself as a leader of a movement, of course, you open yourself up to criticism, because other people are going to say, “Hey, we had the equity in racial justice.” That’s not owned by Jay-Z. Jay-Z may have, you know, equity interests in TIDAL. He may own equity interests in Roc Nation. Those, in his publishing. So he has ownership over that. Okay. The people are rooting for him. Go ahead and make $10 billion or $20 billion. Overwhelmingly, Black America wants to see Jay-Z winning, right? If you have equity in your businesses the people want you generally to be successful, okay? Black people are very loyal and supportive people. Okay? However, racial justice, that’s not Roc Nation, okay? That’s not TIDAL. That’s not your businesses.
Jamarlin Martin: So the people, the Black people on the street in the hood, on the NFL fields, the people have equity on racial justice. So that’s something that Jay-Z does not have a profit interest in. He doesn’t have an ownership interest in. So if he steps in and says, Hova has arrived and kneeling is over and we’re going to run my program. A leader who injects himself all of a sudden is that type of guy or leader. Anybody who steps into it in proclaims that kneeling is Hova, you open yourself up to criticism from the people who have ownership. Who has ownership? The mothers and fathers of the kids being shot by the police. The people are banging against a white supremacist justice system, okay. The people have ownership of this issue, okay. A lot of people have had people killed by the police. My best friend, Michael Brown was killed in L.A. before the other Ferguson Michael Brown. He was killed by the police, by the Los Alamitos police department. A lot of people have equity in this issue. Jay-Z does not own this issue.
13:53 — Jamarlin Martin: So Jay-Z comes in. Let me tell you where the problem is. When you combine a profit motive where you want to get the bag, you want to get the money, you want to position yourself to get more money individually. When you mix a profit motive with an issue, a sensitive issue like racial justice, the mixing of the two, there’s a potential for the issue to become corrupted, particularly when you’re looking at the intent of the NFL. So let’s forget Jay-Z. Let’s say Jay-Z has good intention. In any negotiation, usually there’s a big guy and there’s a little guy. This situation, Jay-Z may be a big guy in Black America, but the NFL owners, Roger Goodell, represents the NFL owners, the billionaire NFL owners. So when there’s a negotiation, there’s a big slave master and there’s a slave. There’s a big difference between Roger Goodell representing the billionaire owners and Jay-Z. Who has the power in this negotiation and do they have good intent? I know a lot of people are like a cult, meaning that a lot of people were raised without a lot of connectivity with fathers. Not everybody, but a lot of people out there, they have chosen rappers to take the place of the father. And so a lot of people, if you say anything about Jay-Z, they start going crazy. They’re ready to fight if you criticize or you say something about Jay-Z because for a lot of particularly Black men, Jay-Z, he’s like a father figure, meaning that people didn’t grow up with the really good relationship with the father.
Jamarlin Martin: So Hova and these are the terms that have been used in terms of Hova, he’s come in and he’s your prophet or God or he’s your father figure. And so now, in many cases the people are psychologically wrapped up in some type of cult connectivity to Jay-Z. So they see themselves and Jay-Z as one. So they are in a cult mindset where you can’t think independently or critically about certain decisions or situations relevant to Jay-Z. He can do anything for a lot of people. But in this case, first we want to look at what was the intent of the NFL owners. Okay, let’s remove our emotions. And for some of the folks out there who are in the Jay-Z cult, they don’t like to hear anything. It doesn’t matter what Jay-Z does.
16:45 — Jamarlin Martin: Okay, but let’s remove the emotions and look at the intent of the owners, the NFL owners. What do they want to accomplish? What they want to accomplish is they want to mitigate their risks in terms of Black people being emotionally involved with the NFL. So a lot of people, it’s not Black or white, meaning that there’s people protesting, but they may look at fewer games. They may look at fewer minutes during the game. So it’s not like an on and off thing, but the NFL has felt what’s going on in terms of the protests in Black America. They felt it and that’s why they went to a guy like Jay-Z.
Jamarlin Martin: When people say that the protests, what are you doing, this and that, the NFL owners, they were feeling what was going on. Okay. It was hurting them and they felt that they had to make a move before the season started. But I think this is going to blow up in their face. They’re going to have to come correct with the Black community. So cutting Jay-Z a check in kind of a back room and he’s going to work on social justice programs. I think this thing is going to blow up, meaning that there’s Black people in America, we have seen so many different forms of the tricknology over decades and decades where the people are smartening up in terms of social media. People are sharing ideas. People are smartening up to the tricknology of the establishment, of elites. People have seen, such as myself, Russell Simmons, when the movie “Blood Diamond” came out, which talked about exploitation in Africa related to De Beers and some of the big diamond companies. Okay. That movie was coming out, but the way these elites think, they’re ahead of the game. Okay. So they knew that this movie was coming out, “Blood Diamond” with Leonardo DiCaprio. They needed lobbyists in the United States to say that the situation is not as bad. Okay? So they needed to pour some soy milk on the coffee in general, not just Black, but they needed lobbyists to represent the diamond industry and say it’s not that bad.
Jamarlin Martin: Who did De Beers and the diamond industry hire? They hired Russell Simmons and Ben Chavis, the former president of the NAACP. The diamond industry cut Russell Simmons a check, they cut Ben Chavis a check. They funded a trip for Ben Chavis and Russell Simmons to go to Africa and then come back and say that everything is not as bad and they’re working on initiatives.
19:30 — Jamarlin Martin: And guess what? Russell Simmons launched a diamond jewelry business with De Beers Diamonds. I know a lot of you Frankenstein Negroes out there. You’ll say that, “Oh, a Black person’s working with De Beers Diamonds, diversity. Oh, you got to support the Black man doing big things.” Okay? We’re not thinking in that Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Simmons, Jay-Z model anymore. Okay. What’s good for them may Not be good structurally for the masses of Black people. Okay? So stop acting like a desperate ho where you just want to see Black so bad, you don’t care what the people are doing. You don’t care if they’re slave trading. You don’t care if they’re lying about, in terms of defending the diamond industry, where do you think society’s gonna end up and our people are going to end up if we just try to be like them. You want to be like Harvey Weinstein. You want to be like Epstein. You want to be like them to get the check. But what are the future generations going to look like in terms of you taking on all this slime to get the check? Where do you think that’s gonna end up?
Jamarlin Martin: This New York Times article was Dec. 18, 2006. “A Hip Hop Mogul is the Diamond’s New Best Friend”. Russell Simmons. He got into a dispute with the white director of “Blood Diamond” and the white director was saying, this guy, Russell Simmons is full of Shit. Okay, but he’s going to say that, hey, he’s a lobbyist for the diamond industry, but you are going to take the Black side because he’s Black. You’re not going to look underneath the wrapper and say, what is structurally good for African people? For Black people? What’s structurally good? What is right and wrong? You’re not going to open up the wrapper and say that’s right or wrong. You see a Black face and slave trading is all right. Crack dealing is okay. Corporate crack dealing is okay. Where do you draw the line and say, no more Negro stuff. I’m not taking the bag. If it’s against the masses of Black people, when are you going to stand up and say, I don’t care about whether the person is Black, white or brown. Okay, slave trading or exploitation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a white man or a Black man doing it. Doesn’t matter if it’s a white man or a Black man on the corner selling the people crack or K2. Okay? It doesn’t matter who’s doing it. Is it structurally sound or evil or deceptive as it relates to the masses of Black people. That’s how you should be judging these issues that come up. It’s structurally, is it structurally positive or negative? Okay.
22:45 — Jamarlin Martin: Whenever you leave the Black community out of the discussion, you leave the players out of the discussion. We can’t say that we’re just going to have faith in your God, Hova, that we know that he’s always going to be thinking out for the masses and the check is never going to come before the masses. Now, Black people don’t have to assume that these leaders, and I don’t care who the leader is, okay? Oprah Winfrey, Obama, Jay-Z, Russell Simmons, I don’t care who the leader is. Each issue needs to be judged. Is it good? Is it a net positive for the masses? Okay. So, if the NFL owners are cutting corners and cutting one person a check on an issue that the people own, and their lobbyists, Jay-Z is a lobbyist now for the NFL. Okay? He’s come in to quiet the people down. He’s come in to help legitimize the NFL again. He’s come in as the Russell Simmons to the diamond industry. You got a problem, you contact Jesse Jackson, you contact Al Sharpton, you cut them a check and quiet the people down. Okay? This model is not new. We’ve seen all the tricknology. Okay. We’ve seen this negro stuff before and there’s nothing wrong with calling out. You’re not a crab in a barrel. A lot of people criticizing this deal. I suspect most of them are fans of Jay-Z, but they were disappointed. They were let down, a lot of them. Even me, looking back, I’m like, man, how could I be surprised because you saw Barclays, and we saw all this other stuff. But we want to believe, we want to believe in each other. This deal is a corporate crack deal. I can be a Jay-Z fan, but also say that the NFL is getting off cheap and easy or they think they’re getting off cheap and easy by cutting Jay-Z a check.
24:51 — Jamarlin Martin: They have this press conference and some people are asking good questions in the press conference and you know what, the NFL and Jay-Z didn’t have answers. They said they’d been working on this for a long time, but they couldn’t really articulate any of the plans. So they didn’t respect the community enough to give any plans. And when I look at that and when I look at Jay-Z and what he’s involved in terms of the title and rock nation, my view is not really out there, is a guy that’s mature and wise as Jay-Z and has seen a lot of stuff and has made great strides, Jay-Z is not doing this NFL deal unless he had to do a deal. A lot of the people out there, they’ll see a Forbes article and say, this person is a billionaire. Because you’re a billionaire, that doesn’t mean you got $1 billion cash in the bank. Okay? That doesn’t mean you’re a billion liquid cash that you can tap. Jay-Z’s wealth is tying up in private investments, okay? It’s not like you can get cash from it like an ATM. So when you’re talking about big money-losing businesses such as a TIDAL or a Roc Nation, compared to other agencies, it’s a startup. So in the early stages of these big businesses, you’re losing money. Okay. And then you, when you take the lifestyle, there could be $10 million or $25 million going out the door each quarter in terms of private jets, occasions, mansions, taxes, all that stuff adds up. So those expenses, that drains the liquidity right away. Okay? So your expenses, they’re going out the door right away. Now your ownership in the businesses, there’s no liquidity there in most cases. So, I believe, that Jay-Z’s not doing this deal in this way without needing to do a deal. That’s my perspective. When I looked into this situation, I said, look, this guy is not doing this deal unless he needed to do a deal, if you know what I mean, take it or let it alone.
27:10 — Jay-Z: You think about the idea of growing up in a single-parent house, which I grew up in, which you grew up in and having an adverse feeling for authority, right? Your father’s gone. So you like, “I hate my dad. Well, nobody tell me what to do. I’m the man in the house.” And then you hit the street and you run into a police officer and he says, “Put your hands up, shut up,” and you’re like, excuse my language, everybody, you’re like, “F**k you.” Right? So, that interaction causes people to lose lives.
Jamarlin Martin: Thanks everybody for listening to GHOGH. You can check me out @JamarlinMartin on Twitter and also come check us out at Moguldom.com. That’s M O G U L D O M.com. Be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter. You can get the latest information on crypto, tech, economic empowerment and politics. Let’s GHOGH!